Friday, November 26, 2010

Chateau Papillon has an "English basement," opening out onto the backyard with one of those ubiquitous sliding glass doors.  Or perhaps I should more correctly say had one of those sliding patio doors; one thing that had nagged us since moving in back in 2008 was the door's poor operation, and the fact that even fully open, it was just an inch too narrow to easily get the bird cages out or to bring things like appliances in.

The solution, obviously, was a nice French door, which we could swing out on both sides.  So, when Lowe's ran a 15% off special order doors sale earlier this fall, we went in and picked out a fairly basic Energy Star-rated model sized to replace that leaky, finicky old sliding door.

Installing the new door was actually very easy; the hardest part was getting the old one out.  I'd done such a job caulking the old door last year that the metal flashing around it was quite loathe to come loose, and I managed to destroy my caulk remover in the process (as well as the metal flashing--but we'd no real thought of salvaging it).  With advice from uncle E.C. and his contractor's expertise coupled with physical labor from my dad and sister Brooke, we got the new door in place with the only snag being some 1/4" cedar planks I had to remove around the opening.  Fortunately, the sill was pretty level, and the sides fairly plumb, requiring very little shimming and adjustment--for proper alignment is absolutely critical when installing any door, much less a French door where anything out of square will result in poor operation and often a gap between the two doors instead of a weather-tight seal.

I got the new door insulated (with low-expansion spray-foam) and caulked, as well as locksets installed and keyed to our existing house keys--a nifty feature, that.  There's still work to do; the inside needs some case molding, and the outside a fascia board along the top as well as possibly some casing along the outside edges.  Too, the strike plate for the main lock needs to be aligned better, and the handedness of the lock swapped (as the levers appear "upside-down" as installed).  But so far, so good!

The old door will be going to Habitat for Humanity, assuming they want it, as we got it out without any significant damage.  Now, if we'd only managed to get the door ordered before the submission deadline for the second round of Virginia energy efficiency rebates, we'd have saved about $100 more on the cost of the door.  Nevertheless, we made good use of our energy rebates, between replacing our furnace and a/c unit, buying a high-efficiency washing machine, and getting a home energy audit (the fruits of which, in all the caulking and other insulation work I've done, are seen in each month's energy bills).

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